It was the call Sonny Gray waited a lifetime for. And he missed it. Twice.
The 25-year-old from Smyrna is a Major League All-Star. The ace of the Oakland A’s staff, he was one of 13 pitchers named Monday to the American League team for next week’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
That group included fellow Rutherford County and Vanderbilt product David Price, a left-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.
For Price, a Murfreesboro native, the honor is becoming commonplace. This is the fifth All-Star selection for the first overall pick in the 2007 draft. All five have come in a span of six seasons. His first four came as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, including 2010 when he was the starting pitcher for the A.L.
“To me, the first one is always the most memorable,” Price said, according to MLB.com.
That’s exactly what this one was for Gray (pictured), the 18th overall pick in the 2011 draft. He was about to begin a round of golf in New York when he realized he missed a couple calls from Oakland manager Bob Melvin.
“He called me twice and I missed him, and then he texted me and I called him back," Gray said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "It was awesome. It was really exciting. It was news that you're wishing for and hoping for, and when you finally receive it, it's just a breathe of fresh air and your shoulders drop down and you just get a big smile on your face."
Now that he’s been selected, it’s likely Gray will have to wait at least a year before he pitches in an All-Star Game for the first time. He is scheduled to start for the A’s on Tuesday and Sunday. If he does pitch Sunday it will make him unavailable to throw two nights later in Cincinnati.
"If the option's left open to pitch in the game, we'll determine that pretty quick," Gray said. "But I still plan on pitching Tuesday and Sunday."
(Photo: Getty Images)
A bacterial infection caused Sonny Gray to miss his last two starts and, subsequently, might cost him his first opportunity to pitch in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
The 25-year-old right-hander out of Vanderbilt is scheduled to return to the mound Tuesday against the New York Yankees. That puts him on schedule to make another appearance Sunday, the last day before the All-Star break.
Pitchers and reserves for the 2015 All-Star Game (July 14 at Cincinnati) will be announced Monday evening, and it’s likely Gray will be among them. He has been the A’s No. 1 starter all season and is 9-3 with a 2.09 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings.
He was scheduled to pitch this past Sunday. Had he pitched then, he would have been scheduled for another start Friday, which would have allowed him enough rest to pitch in the All-Star Game, presuming he’s selected.
However, salmonella that caused gastroenteritis and required a two-night hospital stay forced him to miss that start as it had another one five days earlier.
From MLB.com on Friday:
The bacterial infection attacked his colon, which enlarged to twice its normal size, Gray was told. The pitcher, who began experiencing symptoms Saturday and had a fever as high as 103, is eating solid foods again for the first time since (June 28).
Gray called it “a rough four or five days.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
Carson Fulmer said he does not expect to throw away his money.
Now that he has a lot of it, though, he does plan to give away a little.
The 2015 SEC Pitcher of the Year became the first of eight Vanderbilt players drafted this year to sign a professional contract. Shortly after he put pen to paper Friday on a deal with the Chicago White Sox, which included a signing bonus of nearly $3.5 million, he talked about his short-term plan.
Fulmer said he would donate $10,000 to the White Sox Amateur City Elite program. Ro Coleman, a teammate of Fulmer’s the last two years, is a product of that effort that was created in 2007 to help more than 100 inner city children annually participate in travel baseball.
"Before I joined the White Sox, I kind of hinted to him that I wanted to do it,” Fulmer said of informing Coleman of the ACE donation, according to MLB.com. “Obviously, he had a big smile on his face. It was just a special opportunity for me to give back, especially with the organization I'm part of now and to help kids that are going through tough situations or just need a little extra help moving forward.”
Even before he shared some of his good fortune, the 21-year-old shared some of his wisdom with current members of the program as part of Friday’s festivities that surrounded his formal decision to turn pro. He also threw out the first pitch for that night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.
"That was 100 percent on his own, he brought up the idea," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn of Fulmer's donation. "He came up with the idea, he researched it, he said, 'Why don't I do this?'
“He is a class individual. We're looking to have him for his ability and for his role as a potential leader for this club.”
Fulmer was the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft and one of three Vanderbilt first-round picks in 2015. He is one of 10 Commodores pitchers drafted in the first round since Tim Corbin became head coach in 2003. He is not likely to be the most extravagant.
“I don't know if there will be a lot of purchases," Fulmer said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I'm safe about my money."
That doesn’t mean he’s not generous with it.
(Photo: Vanderbilt athletics)
David Price has yet to achieve perfection in the Major Leagues.
On the mound, that is.
In the dugout the former Vanderbilt All-American has been perfect three times – this season. He has not been a part of a perfect game – the ultimate goal for any pitcher – but he claims to have delivered three “perfect sits” for his current team, the Detroit Tigers.
He explained the act Wednesday during a radio interview on The Jim Rome Show.
From the Detroit Free Press:
“You pick one spot in the dugout and you're not allowed to get up for anything,” Price said. “I've done three Perfect Sits now and we're 2-1 in those Perfect Sits. The only time I got to stand up was in New York, because they did 'God Bless America' after the seventh inning. So that was good, I got to stand up then.”
Price said the first time he did it was June 21 at Yankee Stadium. That night the Tigers ended a four-game losing streak with a 12-4 victory.
“You're not allowed to get up, there's no bathroom break, you can't get up to go get some water, some Gatorade, sunflower seeds. You have to have helpers in the dugout with you. You're obviously doing the Perfect Sit for the team, so you can get a guy to run up to the clubhouse and get you a snack or get you some water, whatever it is.
“It's definitely a team effort, but sitting there for three, 3½ hours is kind of taxing on the legs, it makes them pretty sore. But anything I can do to help the team when I'm not pitching, I'll do it.”
When he was at Vanderbilt, Price earned multiple awards that go to the country’s best college baseball player. Coach Tim Corbin often called him the best teammate as well.
He’s still a pretty good pitcher in the Major Leagues. He was the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner and has been selected to four All-Star Games. He currently ranks in MLB’s top 20 in ERA and strikeouts this season.
Apparently not much has changed.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Dansby Swanson and Carson Fulmer have done a lot together during the last three years.
They were teammates and roommates at Vanderbilt. Each played a critical role in the Commodores’ 2014 national championship and both were selected in the first round of the 215 Major League Baseball draft.
So it made perfect sense that the two shared the stage Monday at the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s Night of Champions.
For Swanson (pictured), the award continues the momentum he has built in terms of individual recognition after a slow start. He lost out to LSU’s Alex Bregman for the first-team All-SEC shortstop but was the first overall pick in the draft, one spot ahead of Bregman. Last week the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named him a first-team All-American and placed Bregman on its second team.
"It was a challenging process this year to make our choice from all the players who put up incredible numbers," Larry Wallace, co-chairman of the Brooks Wallace Award said in a release from the Hall of Fame. "With so many of the top shortstops making it to the College World Series it was great to be able to watch them play extensively. Not only is Dansby an incredible player, we feel he exemplifies the characteristics and qualities that the Brooks Wallace Award represents."
The award in named in memory of former Texas Tech shortstop Brooks Wallace (1977-80), who died from leukemia when he was 27.
Fulmer, also a first-team All-American by the NCBWA, was the SEC Pitcher of the Year and the Commodores’ only first-team All-SEC player this year. He led the conference in wins (14), ERA (1.83), strikeouts (167) and innings pitched (127 2/3).
"To put up those kind of numbers in arguably the toughest conference in the country is truly remarkable," Raymond Richardson, Pitcher of the Year Award co-chair, said in a release. "Carson was a key part of his team's run to the final game of the College World Series, and we look forward to seeing what he does at the next level of his career."
(Photo: Craig Pessman/Vanderbilt athletics)
David Price won his fair share of awards while he attended Vanderbilt and collected another notable one after he left.
Now the university plans to give the 29-year-old pitcher one of its own.
Price has been chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Vanderbilt University Alumni Association Board of Directors Young Professional Achievement Award, which recognizes “an alumnus/alumna, age 40 or under, with a significant record of career achievement and a promise for future professional success.”
“Price is a passionate advocate for Vanderbilt and represents the university and himself with the highest standards of excellence both on and off the diamond. He is a consummate professional who is at the pinnacle of his profession and has tremendous promise for future success,” Alumni Association Board Director Jeff Spencer said in a release from the school.
Price was an All-American pitcher for the Commodores who won numerous national player of the year honors in 2007, including the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. He was the first overall pick in that year’s Major League Baseball draft and made his MLB debut the following year.
He won the 2012 American League Cy Young Award and has been selected to the MLB All-Star Game four times. He led the A.L. in wins (20) and earned run average (2.56) in 2012 (20) and in strikeouts (271) in 2014.
The left-hander is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of this season and will be highly sought after by many teams.
Price completed his degree from Vanderbilt in 2009.
He will receive this latest award during homecoming festivities in the fall.
Want to know how to build one of the best college baseball teams in America?
It’s simple. Recruit the best players.
Vanderbilt’s 2014 national championship and return to the College World Series final this week did not happen by accident. According to Baseball America, Tim Corbin and his staff put together the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class in 2011 and 2012 — and many of the players from those two groups were central to the program’s unprecedented success these past two seasons.
“You can't put it into perspective right now how I feel about our group,” Corbin said after his team lost to Virginia in this year’s best-of-three national championship series. “And I won't do that. That will be for private time. But I don't know if I'll have another group like this again. This is going to be a tough, tough group to replicate.”
In particular, the 2012 class, of which Baseball America wrote, “No class can match the versatility and upside of Vanderbilt’s,” turned out to be as good as advertised.
Based on player ratings at the time, the top four recruits, in order, were pitcher Walker Buehler, pitcher Carson Fulmer, outfielder Rhett Wiseman and shortstop Dansby Swanson. All four were central figures to the team’s two-year run, and Swanson (pictured), Fulmer and Buehler all were first-round picks in the 2015 Major League draft.
Also among that year’s signees were third baseman Xavier Turner, pitcher Tyler Ferguson and infielder Tyler Campbell.
Here is some of what Baseball America wrote of the class before any of the signees ever played a college game:
For the second straight year, Vandy reeled in a power-armed righty who ranks as the nation's top recruit; like Tyler Beede before him, Buehler can reach the mid-90s with his fastball and has good command of his secondary pitches—a devastating power curveball and a sinking changeup. Fulmer gives this class a second marquee arm with a 92-95 mph fastball and a slider that flashes plus. Stephenson and Ferguson offer projection and electric arm strength, as both … In Swanson, Vandy has a quick-twitch, instinctive shortstop with smooth infield actions and a fundamentally sound swing. Wiseman and Turner offer serious athleticism, bat speed and power potential.
Beede, of course, was the prized recruit in the 2011 class that also included pitchers Philip Pfeifer and Adam Ravenelle, first baseman Zander Wiel and outfielder John Norwood, among others.
“I mean, when you're able to come together, 35 strong each year and basically have 34 new best friends every year, it's a special moment,” Swanson said Wednesday. “And that's what we create. We have a family. It's not just 35 players, it's 50, because we have all the staff and the coaches that put so much effort in. So it's a special thing. I've never been a part of something this amazing in my life.”
(Photo: Joe Howell/Vanderbilt athletics)
Tyler Beede and Tony Kemp will be teammates once again.
The former Vanderbilt stars were selected Thursday to play in the All-Star Futures Game, which pits a team of top U.S-born minor league prospects versus a team of international prospects. Each side consists of 25 minor league prospects, regardless of level.
Beede and Kemp will play for the U.S. Team.
Beede (pictured), the 14th overall selection in 2014 by San Francisco, is one of 13 first-round picks among the 50 players chosen for this year’s Futures Game, which will take place at Cincinnati two days before the MLB All-Star Game.
The right-handed pitcher started the season with Class A San Jose but recently was promoted to Class AA Richmond. He is 1-2 with a 5.01 ERA for his current team.
Kemp, a fifth-round choice in 2013 by Houston, started the season at Class AA Corpus Christi and recently was promoted to Class AAA Fresno. He is hitting .354 for the year, including .358 with his current team. His 25-game hit streak, which tied the longest in minor league baseball this season, ended Wednesday night but he bounced back with a hit Thursday.
Tim Corbin tried.
The Vanderbilt coach made an abundance of moves in an attempt to win the decisive third game of the 2015 College World Series final and secure a second straight national championship. Even before the first pitch he adjusted his lineup. And he kept making changes all the way to the final out.
Some worked. Some did not. The result, though, was a 4-2 loss to Virginia and one national title apiece for the programs that have faced off for the crown each of the last two years.
“I just really want to congratulate Virginia. I mean, I think that's first and foremost,” Corbin said following the contest. “…You have to give them a lot of credit.”
A look at the most prominent decisions Corbin made and how successful they were on scale of 1 to 10 (1 = that didn’t work; 10 = inspired thinking).
• Designated hitter switch: A freshman out of Montgomery Bell Academy, Penn Murfee appeared in fewer than half the games this season and was a .243 hitter. Yet Corbin went with him over Ro Coleman, who was dominant in the regional and super regional but had been far less successful at Omaha.
Murfee had two of the Commodores’ five hits, including a double. Both of his hits gave his team a chance to get something going but he did not score a run. Success rating: 6.
• A quick hook: Starting pitcher Walker Buehler is a first-round draft pick and hardly was overworked during the NCAA Tournament. He held Virginia scoreless through the first three innings but then gave up a two-run home run and a walk to start the fourth and Corbin went to the bullpen. From there he used four different pitchers over the final six innings.
Collin Snider and Ben Bowden needed just three pitches combined to get the final two outs of the fifth inning. John Kilichowski didn’t allow a hit in 1 1/3 innings but the one batter he walked scored what turned out to be the game-winning run. Success rating: 5.
• Change at the top: Connected to the decision to go with Murfree at designated hitter was the choice to move Bryan Reynolds from fifth in the lineup to the leadoff spot.
Reynolds had been one of the Commodores’ most consistent hitters throughout the CWS. In this one, he did not have a hit but led off the game with a walk and scored the first run in the top of the first. Success rating: 4.
• Counting on a miracle: After Murfee’s two-out single in the bottom of the ninth, Corbin called on Kyle Smith to pinch hit. It was an obvious attempt to tie the game with one swing given that Smith is a player who has the size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) but not the stats (one hit in 15 at-bats for the season) to suggest he could do it.
Smith fouled off one two-strike pitch but allowed the game to end on a called third strike. Success rating: 1.
(Photo: John Russell/Vanderbilt athletics)
It does not matter what team Tony Kemp plays for or against. He just keeps hitting.
The 2013 SEC player of the Year at Vanderbilt extended his current hitting streak to 25 games with a pair of hits Tuesday.
That ties the longest streak in minor league baseball this season. Mariners prospect Dario Pizzano hit safely in 25 straight earlier in the year.
A fifth-round draft pick (2013), Kemp is rising swiftly in the Houston Astros organization. He started the streak with Class AA Corpus Christi and has continued it through the first 13 games since he was promoted to Class AAA Fresno, which plays at home Wednesday night.
“I don't think I can recall a time like this,” Kemp said, according to MILB.com. “Just keeping things simple; I keep saying that and it's kind of cliché, but that's really what it is. You have four to five opportunities to get up there and have good, quality at-bats. … You can't get too high or too low on yourself, you got to stay even keel. And if you hit the ball hard, you win.
“You're not going to get hits every game, but if you can just have good quality at-bats, good things are going to happen.”
Kemp has struck out just twice in his first 13 games at Fresno, where he has hit .385 with two extra-base hits. His was off Monday and now has a game scheduled every day until July 13.
“I have no idea [how long it will last],” he said. Honestly you can't really worry yourself about the streak. This time doesn't last long, the window for baseball doesn't last forever, so you just got to take advantage while you got the opportunity.”
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